Skip to comments.On the Cosmology of Fireworks
Posted on 07/06/2018 8:21:59 AM PDT by Salvation
One of the great paradoxes of creation and our existence in Gods world is that many blessings are unlocked by explosive, even violent, forces. The cosmos itself is hurtling outward in a massive explosion. Here we are, living part way through that explosion.
When I consider the fireworks on the Fourth of July, I often think that each of those beautiful, fiery explosions is a miniature replica of the cosmos. Everywhere in the universe, the burning embers we call stars and galaxies glow brightly as they hurtle outward at close to one hundred million miles per hour. Yes, from one great singularity, God sent the power of His fiery, creative love expanding outward, giving life, and seeming almost limitless. The cosmos is unimaginably large, but its creator is infinitely large.
Even here on Earth, a relatively cool and stable bit of dust compared to the Sun, we stand upon a thin crust of land floating over an explosive sea of molten, fiery rock. The Book of Job says,
As for the earth, out of it comes bread; Yet underneath it is turned up as it were by fire (Job 28:5).
This fiery cauldron produces the rich soil in which we grow our very bread. The smoke and gases of the fires provide essential ingredients of the atmosphere that sustains us. The molten fires beneath us also create a magnetic field that envelops Earth and deflects the most harmful of the Suns rays.
Yes, all around us there is fire with its explosive violence, yet from it come life and every good gift.
To small creatures like us, Gods expansive love can seem almost violent. Indeed, there are terrifying experiences near volcanos and from solar bursts that remind us that love is both glorious and unnerving. It is an awesome thing to fall into the hands of a living God (Heb 10:31).
In some of our greatest human works, we too use violent means. The blades of our plows cut into the earth, violently overturning it. We raise animals and then lead them to slaughter for food and/or clothing. We break eggs to make omelets. We stoke fires to cook our food and warm our homes. We smelt iron and other ore we violently cut from the earth. Even as we drive about in our cars, the ignition of the fuel/air mixture in the engine causes explosions, the energy from which is ultimately directed toward propelling the vehicle.
Violent though much of this is, we do these things (at least in our best moments) as acts of love and creativeness. By them we bring light, warmth, and food. We build and craft; we move products and people to help and bless.
Yes, there is a paradoxical violence that comes from the fiery heat of love and creativity. The following is an excerpt from Bianco da Sienas 14th century hymn to the Holy Spirit, Come Down, O Love Divine:
Come down, O Love divine,
seek thou this soul of mine,
and visit it with thine own ardor glowing;
O Comforter, draw near,
within my heart appear,
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.
O let it freely burn,
till earthly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
and let thy glorious light
shine ever on my sight,
and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.
Firecant live with it, cant live without it. Let the fire burn; let the seemingly transformative violence have its way. It makes a kind of paradoxical sense to us living in a universe that is midway through its fiery, expansive explosion of Gods love and creativity.
Disclaimer: I am not affirming gratuitous violence for selfish and/or merely destructive ends. The term violence is used here in a qualified manner, as an analogy to convey the transformative and creative power of love phenomenologically.
Monsignor Pope Ping!
I can’t stand the RCC’s posture of extreme passivism. Jesus wasn’t unswervingly passivist unless that served His purpose. He was sometimes violent, or suggested a violent consequence for people’s behavior. How do readers of the Gospels miss this?
My impression, looking from the outside, is that this is a fairly recent phenomenon. From Constantine until at least the conquistadors, the Catholic church was not averse to organizing Christian-based military for its purposes, usually laudatory.
As late as the early 20th century, Chesterton argued against both pacifism and militarism (see here), and his argument sounds to me like a modern version of Aquinas. I also remember Lewis somewhere arguing that Christianity is a precarious paradox of extremes, one of which was the simultaneous necessity for both militarism and pacifism--but I can't remember whether he wrote that before or after becoming Catholic.
In fact, one can’t pin faith on any earthly “ism” because the Spirit can pick and choose among them at any time, making either of them the “wrong answer” at any moment.
This is a challenging feature of faith, in that it must rise above the world. It must even rise above Donald Trump, who has recently been lauded as the next best thing to a Savior for Christians in the USA. It can use the things in the world, but can’t lean on, love, or cling to them.
I understand too that both serious Roman and Protestant thinkers have embraced theories of “just war.” And the idea isn’t new — the very national anthem of the USA has a verse that asserts “And conquer we must when our cause it is just, and this be our motto: In God is our trust.”
The question is what and when, and reading the Spirit is crucial. One important corollary of this is that we can’t idolize, or fetishize, any earthly thing. The Lord may raise it up to peace, or to war, at His choice and His time. The axe cannot boast against the one who wields it.
Since 2015 I have been saying that Trump is Jehu, and Bill and Hillary are Ahab and Jezebel. Jehu, like everyone else in the Bible outside of our Lord (and maybe Mary, a topic for another time :> ), had his human failures and sinful nature. God used Jehu, just as God is using Trump, but our faith look up to God, not sideways (Psalm 146).
Well said, as usual with you :-)
** I can’t remember whether he wrote that before or after becoming Catholic. **
Does it matter?
I lifted it from the bible :-)
Such complaints probably arise from the attitude of the current pope, who is notedly biased towards pacifism. Now maybe this is the season yet for it. If a spirit of militarism gripped the USA at this point, we might see it exploding into destructive riots. It doesn’t make Francis a paragon of theological balance, but it makes him used of God in his time.
That’s almost Calvinist :-)
And St. Mary isn’t running for president, so her case wouldn’t matter here :-). We’ve got to do what the Lord makes possible with mortals who are absolutely known to be sinners.
I’m a little bothered with the idea of Trump as “champion of the Christians.” In a limited sense, with stress on limited, yes. But that doesn’t mean he was that way, or will be that way, all his life. Jesus is the ultimate Champion of the Christians.
Originally a commander of chariots for Ahab, king of Israel, Jehu later led a revolt against the throne and became king himself. In the Bible, it is noted of Jehu that “he drives furiously” (II Kings 9:20). In the 17th century, English speakers began using jehu as a generic term meaning “coachman” or, specifically, “a fast or reckless coachman.” Today, we are more likely to use the word in reference to reckless cabdrivers. The phrase drives like Jehu is encountered occasionally, too.
— from merriam-webster.com. Whether Trump is “reckless” is a matter of intense debate between Republicans and Democrats, but he is certainly forceful.
Only in the sense that the original comment was about how the Catholic church seems to be embracing pacifism, so I was presenting some divergent examples. In general, it doesn't matter whether Lewis was Anglican or Catholic when he wrote it.
Puzzlement here. Is this related to the post?
I don’t remember reading about C. S. Lewis ever formally going Catholic. He didn’t let that stop him from having great theological discussions with Catholic friends, however.
I thought this was about Chesterton?
Sorta the theme of the Dexter opening.
I thought he had around 1950, but evidently I was incorrect. I hope this for me is an example of correcting a wise man so he becomes wiser :-) thanks
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